In Brief – N.28 – January 31, 2016

Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at its landing pad in its first flight since its rocket exploded six months ago.

Following a series of disagreements over economic policy, current Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy will be replaced by Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa, a close ally of President Dilma Rousseff.

Given that China is now the world’s second-biggest economy, its slowdown could have multiple impacts on American investors, corporations and consumers.

Col. Gen. Igor D. Sergun, who oversaw covert military operations for Russia as the director of its military intelligence service (GRU), died. He was 58.

Global markets are facing a crisis that echoes 2008’s, billionaire George Soros told. China is struggling to find a new growth model and its currency devaluation is transferring problems to the rest of the world, Soros said.

The eurozone‘s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in 4 years, while businesses and consumers are more optimistic about their prospects than at any time since April 2011.

TransCanada has filed a claim arguing that under NAFTA it is entitled to $15 billion in compensatory damages for financial losses incurred as a result of US government’s decision to end Keystone XL.

Yahoo is getting ready to lay off at least 1000 staffers, or 10% of its workforce. The company announced plans to sell its core assets in December 2015.

After a 3.7% slump in 2015, economic growth in Russia may resume in 2017, CEO of Russian bank VTB, Andrei Kostin told Rossiya-1 television channel after the World Economic Forum in Davos.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France doubled its sales of arms in 2015 to €16 billion compared to 2014 figures. In 2015, France snatched its first overseas contracts of Rafale fighter jets.

Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky told the BBC he had information from “confidential sources” according to which Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s wealth would be around “$40 billion in assets”.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said after meeting in Rome with Iranian President Hassan Rohani that they signed a series of business agreements during Rohani’s 48-hour stay in Italy which are valued at up to €17 billion.

Apple reported results that showed iPhone sales rose less than 1% from a year earlier, the slowest year-over-year growth rate ever for the device, which accounts for about 2/3 of the company’s revenue.

US-China cooperation is vital to addressing destabilizing behavior of DPRK and other challenges, Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted before heading to Beijing for important meetings.

Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari unexpectedly resigned over corruption allegations. He again denied receiving bribes from a construction company, as had been alleged by a Japanese magazine. The development will be seen as a significant blow for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Russia held out the possibility of cooperating with OPEC to control global oversupply of oil. Russian officials have decided they should talk to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries about output cuts to bolster oil prices, a top Russian oil industry leader said.

On the eve of Syrian peace talks scheduled to begin in Geneva, it remained unclear whether the government or the opposition would show up, or what they would talk about if they do.

While job gains keep pointing to US economy that’s gaining momentum, disappointing economic growth is combining with other ominous signals to raise fears of a slowdown and even recession.